Carved pou at Waiotahi Beach, Opotiki... the 'Gateway To The East Coast'.

I present a selection of images of many of my favourite places in Middle Earth. Hopefully you will be as impressed by these wonderful places as I am- I consider myself very lucky to have either lived there, or have regularly holidayed there.

Pohutukawa- the New Zealand 'Christmas Tree'. Travel the East Coast around Xmas and see what a gorgeous tree these are!

These pictures are all from various places in New Zealand that I call ‘home’ having lived there or holidayed over many years. New Zealand is a wonderful country and there are few places that are not rewarding socially, visually or emotionally.

1) Lake Waikaremoana, Te Urewera National Park. A place definitely in the news at the moment because PM John Key has said the government will not return the Urewera Park, and joked about being eaten by the tangata whenua, Tuhoe (Children of the Mist).

Korokoro Falls, Lake Waikaremoana.

Sunset over Waikaremoana. Heavenly.

View from the old Waikaremoana Lake House site towards 'The Narrows'

Papakorito Falls, Lake Waikaremoana.

2) Tongariro National Park. Gifted to the nation in 1887 by Te Heuheu Tukino, the park is a World Heritage Site that recognises the volcanic nature of the area, but also the cultural significance to the Maori. Tongariro is a magical place with active volcanoes, great skiing, wonderful walks, superb recreation and stunning scenery.

Sunset across Lake Taupo towards the mountains of Tongariro National Park- Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu.

Tongariro River, mecca for trout fishermen.

Swing bridge over the Tongariro at the 'Red Hut'Pool'.

'Mt Doom' aka Mt Ngauruhoe.

Red Crater on Mt Tongariro. Awesome landscapes.

Ngauruhoe on a GOOD day. Great experience to walk the crater of an active volcano.

Mt Ruapehu on a NOT GOOD day!

Blue Lake on the traverse between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.

3) West Coast. The West Coast (or ‘The Coast’) is a long strip of land that lies between the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps in the South Island. As a consequence it has a fantastic variety of wild and wonderful scenery, as well as a wide range of activites to interest the visitor.

Mid-winter an Lake Brunner named for one of the first European explorers of the region.

Lake Brunner, Moana to the Maori. A beautiful place.

Punakaiki- pancake rocks.

Punakaiki blowhole- spectacular with the right tide after a southerly storm.

Franz Josef glacier- a spectacular river of ice that almost reaches the sea.

Fox Glacier a wee bit further down The Coast is also just a few kilometers from the sea.

The warning at the terminal face of the glaciers is clear but a number who ignored it are no longer among us!

Lake Matheson is internationally famous for its reflection views of the Southern Alps.

The Coast is infamous for the robust sandflies that may be found throughout the region. You'll be unlucky to find one this big!

4.) The East Coast. Also known as ‘The Coast’ especially by those who live there, this is a region of great coastal beauty with secluded rocky bays and extensive golden sand beaches, and some of the best ‘kai moana’ (sea food) to be had.

Capt Cook monument on Kaiti Hill in Gisborne, across Poverty Bay from Young Nick's Head named for the young seaman who reputedly first sighted the new southern land.

Young Nick's Head, named for Nicholas Young, cabin boy on Capt. Cook's 'Endeavour'.

Tolaga Bay, East Coast.

The impressive wharf at Tolaga Bay.

Sunrise at East Cape- a fantastic sight to start the day!

East Cape lighthouse.

5. The Bay Of Plenty is, as the name suggests a hugely fertile food basket as well as having some extraordinary scenery- from beaches to lakes, rivers to mountains.

Waioeka River- great for fishing, rafting, sight-seeing.

Stop off at the Matawai Pub, a typical rural roadside hotel just before the Waioeka Gorge.

The Waioeka Gorge- direct Poverty Bay- Bay of Plenty.

Ohiwa Harbour, an extensive lagoon that teems with fish and beauty.

The impressive Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa geothermal area, Rotorua.

Spectacular landforms created by mineral deposit at Whakarewarewa, Rotorua.

Huka Falls where the mighty Waikato River forces its way between rock walls metres apart.

Get an adrenaline fix aboard 'HukaJet'- great fun blatting up river to the base of the Huka Falls!

The Waikato River begins as a small stream on the Desert Road that flows into the Tongariro then emerges from Lake Taupo (above) before flowing northwards to the Tasman, and creating megawats of power at numerous hydro stations on the way.

6) Taranaki is my turangawaewae (where I was born, my ‘place to stand’) and is dominated by my maunga, Taranaki- also known as Mt Egmont.

Maori legend has it that Taranaki once stood with Ruapehu and Tongariro in the middle of the island, but a fight with Ruapehu over the beautiful Pihanga saw Taranaki drag his way to return to the sea only to be halted by the rising of the sun, to stand forever where he now is.

7) Wind Power is a touchy subject with many objecting to the “visual pollution” caused by the turbines, but my view is that such a renewable resource has to be tapped. The beauty of it is that in the event of new and more efficient technology being discovered, the turbines can be dismantled and the hills return to their pristine state.

Te Apiti wind farm on the saddle between Ashhurst and Woodville.

8) Wellington, the nation’s Capital, and a capital town. Great wining and dining, entertainment, culture and shopping.

Wellington from Mt Victoria. The harbour and surrounding hills give the town its very special character. This view is dominated in the foreground by Ta Papa, the Museum Of New Zealand.

The same view from Mt Victoria at night- fabulous!

Oriental Bay is a popular spot for Wellingtonians. Being an easy walk from the CBD it is a destination for lunch-time walkers as well those with nothing better to do than soak up a few rays.

On a calm night there must be few better views than this around the world!

7) Across Cook Strait is Te Waipounamu, the South Island of New Zealand, my current home being on the West Coast of the island at Greymouth.

The entrance to Tory Channel, the 'door' to Queen Charlotte Sound and the other Marlborough Sounds. This is a very popular holiday destination with outstanding bush-walks, trail biking, boating and fishing.

French Pass, the narrow pass between the Pelorus Sound mainland D'Urville Island is a spectacular tidal rapids that results from the pressure of incoming or receding tidal water forcing its way through the narrow neck.

Just 'around the corner' from French Pass is the tiny settlement of French Pass, idyllic on a calm day with fabulous views of D'Urville Island and Cook Strait.

8) West of Nelson is the glorious Abel Tasman National Park, and extensive marine reserve that attracts thousands of visitors who explore this region and participate in the wide range of adventures available. (See my page on The Heaphy Track.)

Abel Tasman National Park.

Sea kayaking the crystal waters of the Abel Tasman National Park.



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